Did German scientists and experts confirm that a warm saltwater gargle kills COVID-19?
Take a look at the viral advice, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : German Experts Say Saltwater Gargle Kills COVID-19!
People are sharing this advice by German scientists who claim that their studies show that a warm saltwater gargle like Abmonak kills COVID-19!
They have allegedly also advised the German government that if people gargle with this Abmonak solution several times a day, COVID-19 can be eliminated in Germany within a week!
It’s a long post, so just skip to the next section for the facts…
Truth : German Experts Did NOT Say Saltwater Gargle Kills COVID-19
The truth is – German scientists and experts did NOT say that a saltwater gargle like Abmonak can kill COVID-19.
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Abmonak Does Not Exist
Abmonak appears to be a made-up name. There is no such gargle solution called Abmonak, in Germany or anywhere else in the world.
Fact #2 : German Health Authorities Do NOT Use Saltwater Gargle
Just to be clear – German health authorities do NOT use saltwater gargle to prevent COVID-19.
Neither do German scientists and experts advocate the use of saltwater gargle against COVID-19.
Fact #3 : Gargling Cannot Prevent COVID-19
Gargling cannot prevent COVID-19, because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted through three principle ways :
- inhalation of respiratory droplets and aerosol particles,
- deposition of respiratory droplets and aerosol particles on exposed mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eye, and
- touching mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or eye, with contaminated hands
Gargling cannot prevent infection when you breathe in the coronavirus, or if infectious droplets fall onto your eyes.
Neither can gargling prevent infection when you accidentally touch your mouth, nose or eye with contaminated hands.
Fact #4 : COVID-19 Does Not Germinate In Your Throat
The fake news suggests that COVID-19 germinates for a week in your throat. That’s utter nonsense.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus will not “chill out” and multiply in your throat for a week, before heading to your lungs. So trying to gargle it away is NOT going to work.
Fact #5 : Semi-Hot Gargle Can Be Dangerous
You should also be careful about gargling with semi-hot saltwater, as it could scald your throat if it’s too hot.
The high temperature will not help prevent COVID-19 in any case, as it is only temporary. Your throat will return to normal temperature within seconds.
Fact #6 : Saltwater Does Not Reduce Viral Load
An October 2021 study by Tiong et. al in Malaysia actually looked at the effectiveness of saltwater gargle in directly destroying SARS-CoV-2.
The study found that saltwater “did not show any reduction in viral load“, compared to commercial mouthwashes.
|Gargle||Log10 Reduction In Viral Titres|
|Clean Condition||Dirty Condition|
Fact #7 : Gargle Reduces Transmission, Not Prevent Infection
Gargling does not help prevent infection, but it can help reduce transmission by infected persons who may be asymptomatic.
Gargling with povidone-iodine has been proven to reduce saliva viral load, which helps prevent COVID-19 positive individuals from infecting dental professionals.
Hence, Malaysia Ministry of Health (KKM) guidelines recommend the use of mouthwash containing 1.0–1.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.2–1.0% povidone iodine prior to dental examination and treatments.
In short, gargling with solutions like povidone-iodine is meant to protect dentists from being infected by their patients. It does not prevent you from being infected.
Fact #8 : Saltwater Is Slightly Alkaline
Saltwater has an average pH of around 8.1, which means it is slightly alkaline.
Gargling with saltwater can temporarily make your throat and oral cavity slightly alkaline, but this only lasts until you swallow some saliva or drink water.
Try gargling with saltwater and see how long you can maintain (live with) the salty taste. Didn’t take long for you to swallow, did it?
That’s why it is practically useless to gargle with saltwater (or anything else), if you want to create a truly alkaline environment in your throat.
Fact #9 : Making Throat Alkaline Is Pointless
Turning your throat alkaline is also pointless because the SARS-CoV-2 virus generally does not infect you through the throat.
It mainly infects you through your nose, mouth and eyes. See Fact #2. So focusing on the throat is like watering the garden plants while your house is on fire…
Fact #10 : COVID-19 Is Not Caused By Coronavirus Mouse Hepatitis Virus 4
This fake news is based on a misunderstanding of a 1991 research paper called “Alteration of the pH Dependence of Coronavirus-Induced Cell Fusion: Effect of Mutations in the Spike Glycoprotein”.
The paper was talking about a completely different coronavirus – MHV4 (Coronavirus Mouse Hepatitis Type 4), which is completely different from SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
In fact, the paper also pointed out that the wild-type MHV4 virus has no problem infecting cells at neutral pH. The scientists had to create variants that were specifically dependent on acidic pH to fuse host cells.
In other words, the fake news creators misrepresented what the paper said, to mislead you about the effect of alkaline pH on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Don’t waste your time gargling. Protect yourself by getting vaccinated against COVID-19!
And please SHARE this fact check with your family and friends!
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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